Held on 24 October in São Paulo by IDIS (Institute for the Development of Social Investment) in partnership with the Global Philanthropy Forum, the 2nd Brazilian Philanthropy Forum was an exciting and overwhelming event, gathering together 186 delegates to discuss ‘The Transformative Role of Strategic Philanthropy’.
The mood of the room was positive and friendly, reflecting our nature as Brazilians. But the discussions during the day were quite unsettling. While we were able to hear about great practices that we can congratulate ourselves on as a sector, patting each other on the back about our contribution to improving the quality of life of many Brazilians, we still have a long way to go. Not only to guarantee Brazilians’ rights to education, health and work and to protect our environment, but also to foster a better environment to improve giving in Brazil.
With scepticism, we heard a very promising and progressive opening speech by the Chief Minister Gilberto Carvalho, General Secretary of the Presidency. Carvalho, very respectful with the audience, said that philanthropy has ‘a role to play in strengthening our young democracy – to exercise participation, social and economic inclusion’. He mentioned successful public-private partnerships such as with ASA Brasil to build 700,000 rain-fed water cisterns to provide water access in rural areas in the north-east that lack other water sources; and the contribution of Pastoral da Crianca to drastically reducing child and infant mortality.
Asked what could be done to increase giving in Brazil (according to IDIS/IPSOS research only 21 per cent of the population donates), Minister Carvalho declared that the Federal Government is willing to dialogue with representatives of the philanthropic sector to take actions to stimulate donation through ‘less bureaucratic and more broad incentives’. Without holding our breaths, there is hope.
In the session that followed Antonio Moraes Neto of Vox Capital talked about how his impact investing fund is supporting social enterprises to improve the quality of life of the base of the pyramid (nearly 160 million people in Brazil – 85 per cent of the country’s population, who are from the middle class and below). He also called attention to the reality that all these people, including our ‘very celebrated new middle class’, have an income below the US poverty line.
Environmentalists pointed out the crisis of funding for CSOs in this field. Up until now, they have been funded by international foundations and agencies, but they are leaving the country to focus on other regions. They urged Brazilian philanthropists in the room to support environmental issues. Joao Paulo Capobianco, from Institute for Democracy and Sustainability, also criticized the trend of giving grants to ‘one year projects’. ‘It took us 14 years to pass a law to protect our Mata Atlantica Forests’.
In the session about ‘Preparing the Next Labor Force’, Adenil from Instituto Alianca presented their successful programme in public schools preparing over 200,000 youngsters each year for their first job, which has been replicated in other countries. This time it was Manpower director Riccardo Barberis who made the wake up call: ‘Brazil, along with Mexico and India, is one of the few countries in the world where the labour force will increase over the next years. If the country doesn’t grow at least 4 per cent a year, young people will have a difficult time finding a job.’
The inspirational part of the event was the premier of the IDIS documentary film Strategic Philanthropy – The Future is Now, which presented testimonies of Brazilian philanthropists and business leaders about their philanthropic motivations, engagement and practices.
The event ended on a high note. Although many speakers expressed their frustration with the reality of Brazil being the 6th economy in the world but holding the shameful positions of 85th on the Human Giving Index and 83rd on the World Giving Index, the sense of possibility, urgency and humanity was present throughout discussions. Paulo Sotero Marques, director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars gave us some advice about how we should take all this: ‘Look to Brazil as a video, because it is in motion. Change is possible, and it will come.’
Marcia Kalvon Woods is senior advisor at IDIS and a board member at Amor Horizontal Foundation